reload The Race by Maurice McCracken

Friday, February 09, 2007

"Serving the local church..."

posted by Little Mo | Permalink |
There's an argument around that goes a bit like this:

Q:"What should I do if I want to take a year out after graduation?"
A: "Work for a church. God works through the local church, so that's what you'd do if you were really wanting to see God work"
Q:" What about other excellent schemes, like ones run by dashing young Irishmen who love the colour orange?"
A: "They are for people who aren't really committed to the local church. But I know you are a godly Christian and so will want to do the local church thing".

Dashing young Irishman: " I'm flummoxed. Also, what type of names begin with the letter Q?"

Now, the dashing young Irishman is no longer flummoxed. As someone pointed out, sometimes people show their commitment to the local church by taking a ministry job outside the local church. A nice friend recently showed me that my personal commitment to the local church, to loving it, strengthening it and being committed to it as the Bride of Christ is much more effectively played out by doing what I am doing training, teaching and administrating outside my local church than it would be if I worked for it. Same is true of Archbishop Peter Jensen, of missionary Hudson Taylor and my friend Chris who works for IFES in Belgium. It's because these people love/d the local church that they didn't settle down in one local congregation and work for it - they saw an opportunity to resource and support and help the church by working outside it.

So, don't fall for the lie that working for a local church is intrinsically more godly. Make the decision that will help you, with the person you are and the gifts you have got, serve the church, by working for it or not working for it.


Blogger Marc Lloyd said...

Okay. Point made and granted. But don't you think the argument still basically works? Other things being equal (which I admit they rarely are) don't you think most of the time local church is the better option?

I wonder if I might not have been better trained and supported in a local church rather than by doing the Relay programme. But there may be special circumstances in that.

I'm certainly very glad I did an apprenticeship in a local church later as I think its so valuable for future pastors and gives something that relay doesnt necessarily in that respect - though relay's fab too in other ways an' all and has probably imporved since my day (the dashing young Ulsterman, for example), and what do I know and yadder, yadder, yadder.

Blessings, Maurice.


4:20 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

I just don't think we can draw these big distinctions between local church ministry and wider church ministry. I did Relay because I love Jesus and I love the gospel and I love students and want them to love Jesus too. BUT it was through doing Relay that I really fell in love with the Church. I am serving the church in my work now as a church apprentice by preaching in churches, helping in sunday school, still speaking in CUs, mopping the toilets, studying well... It's about service to the people of God really. Relay is wonderful and hard going. Local church work is wonderful and hard going. Regular 'secular' work is wonderful and hard going. But serve! Wherever you are however you can. Good post Mo.

4:42 AM  
Blogger Little Mo said...


I ALWAYS think local church is the better option. So the question ALWAYS is, "what can I do best for the local church?"

I guess my issue is: is it really best for the local church to pull many of our best graduates out of the mission field to stuff envelopes and move chairs, when they could be pioneering evangelism to their peers on the multicultural campuses of Britain?

Pejoratively I suggest, many times (although not always) not.

My point is not - serve UCCF instead of the local church. Rather, for a whole lot of people you'll serve the church better by working and being trained in a mission organisation than becoming general dogsbody for a church.

Whoops - this comment came out a whole lot more forthright than my original post.

Nice to be in louch lloydie. Hello Nathan too!

5:36 AM  
Blogger Cat said...

I think the point is to serve God wherever He wants you to serve - if thats doing relay or working in your local church. He will put a desire on your heart for what is right at this particular season in time for the Glory of His name.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Marc Lloyd said...


Thanks. That clarifies for me.

Its really a long term argument for better church based apprenticeships with churches doing effective front line evangelism to students, isn't it?

Though this is off topic a bit, I'd love to see some stuff on CUs / churches working on campuses esp. with the current anti-gospel politics with CUs having their freedoms restricted.

What are the chances of churches working on campases? Could a church usually book a lecture theatre on a campus on a comercial basis?

What do you think of trying to get more evangelical clergy to be official university chaplains?

Do you think it would be a post that is potentially suitable for a woman with fairly conservative views on ministry?

2:38 AM  
Blogger FloydTheBarber said...

Quentin's a good one...also my gran had a friend called Queenie, but i'm pretty sure that wasn't her real name.

on a more serious note, i think Nathan's hit the nail on the head. i don't really see a big division between serving the local church and the non local church (obviously we are called to attend and love one Local Church, i think i mean in a more broader service sense). I guess by doing Relay i'm serving the churches in Guildford by trying to get their students excited about Jesus, my church in Reading by learning how much i desperately need Jesus and The Church by telling people about Jesus. I'm doing mission somewhere that churches can't reach, and in that sense i'm not sure there's a big division between being a local and sending church supported missionary at uniS to being a local and sending supported church missionary in Chad or Vietnam, to choose two random examples.
I thought a lot about whether to do a church internship instead of Relay this year and in the end the training and support i get doing relay is hugely more than i would have got from a church. so i guess in that sense i'm serving the local church as well, by getting the best training i could for myself...

12:21 PM  
Blogger Little Mo said...

Lloydie - the issues you raise are interesting, but I'm not sure how they came from my post. The last thing I think we need to replce "para-church" work is just more local church work - my point is that some people ministering and being trained outside the local church is good for the local church. Your own august institution being an example of that logic at work I guess.

"Floyd" demonstrated what I was trying to say amply. But I guess he would as he's one of mine!

1:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for a post clarifying some things on an argument i've found myself increasingly caught in the middle of! It's really helped!!

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'It has become fashionable to refer to IFES and to mission agencies as "para-church movements". My preference is instead to use the term "intra-church movement", for we are part of the church, and exist only in relation to it. We serve the church. There are different roles and functions for different parts of the body, and members have different gifts. Student ministry is essentially a specialist ministry of the church, obeying Christ's call to reach into the part of the world that happens to be a university, so it is an arm of the church into the student world, a link between the local church and the student community.'
A Relay Worker quoting Lindsay Brown, Shining Like Stars, p.100 - good stuff, isn't it?

1:18 PM  
Blogger Mrs. B said...

Back in the 70's, a movement, or group of folks, had a vision to start churches on campuses with the idea that it is through the local church that God works best.

Ideally, students would grow together during their university years and then go out together after graduation and plant more churches.

We got involved with one of these churches in the 80's...and still are involved with a campus church( )
but it still is predominantly a campus church.
Folks don't stay around after graduating for a variety of reasons.

It is a blessing to be a part of campus church, though, for our family.

In the beginning, when my husband and I were involved, we were the age of the students, but now, our children are the age of the incoming freshman:)

Thanks for your post that got me thinking more about this topic!

5:11 AM  

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